WITH the men’s national basketball team begging off from the 18th Asian Games Indonesia, all eyes will be on the Philippine Under-18 squad seeing action in the Fiba U-18 Asia Championship in Thailand starting from Sunday to August 11.
The Philippines, a basketball nation buffeted by controversies involving Gilas Pilipinas, is counting on Batang Gilas to provide a tonic when it competes in Thailand beginning on Friday with an eye on a spot in the FIBA U-19 World Championship next.
“Sinabi nga kanina, the last time they qualified for the Under-19 was in 1979. So if we qualify, it will be 40 years, if we qualify for next year’s Under-19 FIBA World Cup,” said top backer Ronald Mascariñas during a send-off ceremony on Thursday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
“There’s a lot of expectations for you guys but more than winning, what is important is for you to be good ambassadors for the country. It’s not only winning that counts; it’s how we play the game," he added.
Batang Gilas coach Josh Reyes isnot putting pressure on his wards in achieving their best finish possible in the continental meet.
“But I always tell these guys, it’s unfair to expect results, especially to expect results from young athletes. What I do expect from them, no matter what the scoreboard is how they play, giving their all, giving their best, playing their hearts on the floor,” Reyes said.
“We’ll try to finish the best finish we can. It’s tough to give a number. My goal is for these guys to compete and play their best every game. That’s my overall goal, for these young kids to play their full potential every game,” he added.
Reyes, who is handling a squad bannered by Kai Sotto, AJ Edu, Dalph Panopio, and Dave Ildefonso, will be battling Lebanon on Sunday, UAE on Monday next week, and powerhouse China on Tuesday in Group B.